A Review

I thought I knew what I let myself in for when I entered the cinema and took my seat. I was told that Lion left a lasting impression on the audiences that have seen it before me. I was ready for it. I was ready to experience the age old cliché of reuniting a family. But I was not.

Lion. A confusing title for a film about a five year old boy called Saroo (Sunny Pawar) who lost his way while demanding to assist his brother, Guddu (Abhishek Bharate), in providing for their family. Although ill-starred, the two embarked on what would have been a week-long commitment when Saroo is separated from Guddu. After tirelessly searching for Guddu, Saroo falls asleep on a stationary train and ends up 1500 km from home. Saroo is eventually adopted by an Australian couple and raised by love and compassion. Skip ahead 20 years and he once again feels the lack of belonging when discussing his childhood with friends, initiating the search for his family. The only problem is, he only knows the name of his hometown, which according to everyone who tried to help him does not exist, and the name of his brother. When asked what his mother’s name is, he could simply reply “maan”, the Hindi word for “mother”.

Where do you start if you want to evaluate a film so powerful and true that you do not care about possible errors or discontinuation? A film so blatantly honest that you have no choice but to invest your being in what you are experiencing. Although I would rather have Sunny Pawar be nominated for an Academy Award, Dev Patel (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, The Newsroom) delivers a stellar performance with the same honesty as when he played Jamal in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire. There are no words to describe the emotion conveyed in this film, no notions of elucidation that can effectively persuade someone to watch this film which so elegantly elevates and accentuates the powerful love of family. The film is more than a masterpiece. The film changes how you view the world when you leave that cinema. Suddenly, you’ll realise how fortunate you are, even if you think you might be the most infelicitous person, this film will remind you of your blessings.

I am not a crier. I rolled my eyes in My Sister’s Keeper and glanced at my watch repetitively during The Fault in Our Stars, but the seductively empathetic film that is Lion had me in tears. And by that, I do not mean that not only did a tear roll down my cheek because of my admiration for the beauty of the production, but also because of the deep realisation that we have a responsibility towards each other. If that means you need to travel halfway around our planet to make a difference and spend every last cent you have to do so, do it; because you might just prevent a story so sad that I had to compose myself before leaving my seat from happening.

If only we cared more for one another.

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La La Land

A Review

When The Artist flickered on the silver screen it introduced something new to me. Not a new genre of film or a new emotion conveyed in the score, but a new nostalgia. A longing for that which I did not know I longed for. It reminded me of my dreams and the stars I added to a clear night’s sky. I don’t think a film will move me to the same extent as Michel Hazanavicius did with his masterpiece that went on to be crowned Best Motion Picture of the Year in 2012. But I could be wrong.

La La Land is, as a cynic would describe it, a film of Hollywood by Hollywood for Hollywood. And that is why I love it. It tells the story of Mia (Emma Stone), a desperate hopeful actress, lucky enough to work in a coffee shop on the Warner Brothers’ lot. Serendipitously, she meets Sebastian Wilder (Ryan Gosling) while he is gently force feeding the public some dignified culture. Seb, a die-hard jazz musician, motivates Mia by liberating her perception of art. By breaking down the superficial impression of what she ought to be doing and building her confidence in expressing her artistic worth through means she has not yet explored.

I thought I was happy. I thought The Artist filled the space in my soul that I knew not was empty. I thought that I finally found the film that I could happily refer to as my favourite film of all time. Oh! How terribly wrong I was. La La Land reminded me that The Artist did not extirpate my longing. It reminded me of what Hollywood is capable of, it reminded me of its beauty and its worth. La La LandIt isn’t a film, like most other critically acclaimed productions, that grips a hold of your heart in order to shock and empty your being from vanity. It caresses your dreams. It reintroduces thoughts and emotions that you forgot you could have.

While watching the film, you’re reminded of Hollywoodland, of an era where a film wasn’t a success without the rhythmic tap of Fred Astaire’s shoes or when Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra spending a night On the Town had the public abuzz. Mandy Moore managed to achieve that exact nostalgia with classic Broadway choreography, mixed with a touch of tap, swing, and waltz. It’s the type of dancing that, when witnessed, induces a gentle sway of the head because you just can’t keep the joy to yourself anymore.

Every aspect of the film complements each other. From the strategic cinematography which intensifies the gracious editing while it is augmenting the score and sheer blissful brilliance of the two Academy Award Nominated original songs in the film; to the striking lightning used to shift focus which created a similar atmosphere to that which I experienced in the Bolshoi. The scrupulous introduction and application of jazz in not only the score but the script itself elevates the message of artistic freedom, creativity and expression in ways I could not have imagined possible. A score so emotive and impressive that it will have you driving home in silence because no rhythm is comparable to the one created out of compassion, hope, and love is deserving of an Oscar. While probably not intentional, Damien Chazelle’s decision to cast J.K. Simmons (Whiplash) in a role small enough to be a walk-on, reminds the audience of the literal blood, sweat and tears jazz artists submit to their art form. The film might have been severely predictable at a stage, but the predictability is ended abruptly through means that would never be expected.

La La Land silenced another piece of my longing for a film like itself. It silenced it with content, happiness, and hope. I wish every film could be like this – spellbinding, without fault and unapologetically true to the town that made it possible.


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2017 Academy Award Nominations

The Movies

Best picture:
Hacksaw Ridge
Hell or High Water
Hidden Figures
La La Land
Manchester by the Sea

Lead actor:
Casey Affleck, Manchester by the Sea
Andrew Garfield, Hacksaw Ridge
Ryan Gosling, La La Land
Viggo Mortensen, Captain Fantastic
Denzel Washington, Fences

Lead actress:
Isabelle Huppert, Elle
Ruth Negga, Loving
Natalie Portman, Jackie
Emma Stone, La La Land
Meryl Streep, Florence Foster Jenkins

Supporting actor:
Mahershala Ali, Moonlight
Jeff Bridges, Hell or High Water
Lucas Hedges, Manchester by the Sea
Dev Patel, Lion
Michael Shannon, Nocturnal Animals

Supporting actress:
Viola Davis, Fences
Naomie Harris, Moonlight
Nicole Kidman, Lion
Octavia Spencer, Hidden Figures
Michelle Williams, Manchester by the Sea

Best director:
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Mel Gibson, Hacksaw Ridge
Barry Jenkins, Moonlight
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea
Denis Villeneuve, Arrival

Animated feature:
Kubo and the Two Strings
My Life as a Zucchini
The Red Turtle

Animated short:
Blind Vaysha
Borrowed Time
Pear Cider and Cigarettes

Adapted screenplay:
Eric Heisserer, Arrival
August Wilson, Fences
Allison Schroeder and Theodore Melfi, Hidden Figures
Luke Davies, Lion
Barry Jenkins; Story by Tarell Alvin McCraney, Moonlight

Original screenplay:
Mike Mills, 20th Century Women
Taylor Sheridan, Hell or High Water
Damien Chazelle, La La Land
Yorgos Lanthimos, Efthimis Filippou, The Lobster
Kenneth Lonergan, Manchester by the Sea

Bradford Young, Arrival
Linus Sandgren, La La Land
Greig Fraser, Lion
James Laxton, Moonlight
Rodrigo Prieto, Silence

Best documentary feature:
Ava DuVernay, Spencer Averick and Howard Barish, 13th
Gianfranco Rosi and Donatella Palermo, Fire at Sea
Raoul Peck, Remi Grellety and Hebert Peck, I Am Not Your Negro
Roger Ross Williams and Julie Goldman, Life, Animated
Ezra Edelman and Caroline Waterlow, O.J.: Made in America

Best documentary short subject:
Daphne Matziaraki, 4.1 Miles
Dan Krauss, Extremis
Kahane Cooperman and Raphaela Neihausen, Joe’s Violin
Marcel Mettelsiefen and Stephen Ellis, Watani: My Homeland
Orlando von Einsiedel and Joanna Natasegara, The White Helmets

Best live-action short film:
Ennemis Interieurs
La Femme et le TGV
Silent Nights

Best foreign language film:
A Man Called Ove (Sweden)
Land of Mine (Denmark)
Tanna (Australia)
The Salesman (Iran)
Toni Erdmann (Germany)

Film editing:
Joe Walker, Arrival
John Gilbert, Hacksaw Ridge
Jake Roberts, Hell or High Water
Tom Cross, La La Land 
Nat Sanders and Joi McMillon, Moonlight

Sound editing:
Sylvain Bellemare, Arrival
Wylie Stateman and Renée Tondelli, Deep Water Horizon
Robert Mackenzie and Andy Wright, Hacksaw Ridge
Ai-Ling Lee and Mildred Iatrou Morgan, La La Land
Alan Robert Murray and Bub Asman, Sully

Sound mixing:
Bernard Gariépy Strobl and Claude La Haye, Arrival
Kevin O’Connell, Andy Wright, Robert Mackenzie, and Peter Grace, Hacksaw Ridge
Andy Nelson, Ai-Ling Lee, and Steve A. Morrow, La La Land
David Parker, Christopher Scarabosio, and Stuart Wilson, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story
Greg P. Russell, Gary Summers, Jeffrey J. Haboush, and Mac Ruth, 13 Hours: The Secret Soldiers of Benghazi

Production design:
Patrice Vermette and Paul Hotte, Arrival
Stuart Craig and Anna Pinnock, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Jess Gonchor and Nancy Haigh, Hail, Caesar!
Sandy Reynolds-Wasco and David Wasco, La La Land
Guy Hendrix Dyas and Gene Serdena, Passengers

Original score:
Mica Levi, Jackie
Justin Hurwitz, La La Land
Dustin O’Halloran and Hauschka, Lion
Nicholas Britell, Moonlight
Thomas Newman, Passengers

Original song:
“Audition (The Fools Who Dream),” from La La Land. Music by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“Can’t Stop the Feeling,” from TrollsMusic and Lyric by Justin Timberlake, Max Martin, and Karl Johan Schuster (Shellback)
“City of Stars,” from La La LandMusic by Justin Hurwitz, Lyric by Benj Pasek and Justin Paul
“The Empty Chair,” from Jim: The James Foley Story. Music and Lyric by J. Ralph and Sting
“How Far I’ll Go” from MoanaMusic and Lyric by Lin-Manuel Miranda

Makeup and hair:
Eva von Bahr and Love Larson, A Man Called Ove
Joel Harlow and Richard Alonzo, Star Trek Beyond
Alessandro Bertolazzi, Giorgio Gregorini and Christopher Nelson, Suicide Squad

Costume design:
Joanna Johnston, Allied
Colleen Atwood, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Consolata Boyle, Florence Foster Jenkins
Madeline Fontaine, Jackie
Mary Zophres, La La Land

Visual effects:
Craig Hammack, Jason Snell, Jason Billington and Burt Dalton, Deepwater Horizon
Stephane Ceretti, Richard Bluff, Vincent Cirelli and Paul Corbould, Doctor Strange
Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Dan Lemmon, The Jungle Book
Steve Emerson, Oliver Jones, Brian McLean and Brad Schiff, Kubo and the Two Strings
John Knoll, Mohen Leo, Hal Hickel and Neil Corbould, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story


Vir die Voëls (For the Birds)

A Review

It is no secret that I am inclined to dislike an Afrikaans film. Not because I regard South African productions to be of a lesser quality than first world countries’ films, but because the majority of  Afrikaans speaking people seems to be satisfied with so little, but only if a tart is thrown in someone’s face and uncontrolled bowel activity is the climax of the writer’s comedic capacity. I entered the cinema with a hope of change that the Afrikaans film industry promises time and time again, but has it finally arrived?

In the trailer, Vir die Voëls (For the Birds) is marketed as a typical Afrikaans romantic comedy about a young woman who portrayed as a grown-up version of Pippy Longstocking – rough, strong willed, independent and untouchable by life’s convention. This perception, however, is only the cinnamon of the milk tart.

Vir die Voëls delves into the core of Irma Humple’s (Simoné Nortmann) being as narrated by herself. Irma grips the audience by taking advantage of one of the most intense moment your life (the dead silence before you are supposed to say “I do”) to show the audience the vast quantity of thoughts that bolted through her mind at that moment. We’re introduced to her as a child where her being’s moulding factors are blatantly forced into the life of a primary school child. Her father, Ivan Humple (Neels van Jaarsveld), numbs his soul by devoting himself to any bottle that comes in a brown paper bag, while her mother attempts to keep the peace. Skip ahead a few years and Irma is at the end of her high school career, having to study for her last final exam when she decides to draw the line her mother, Alta Humple (Nicola Hanekom), never could. Irma runs into her childhood friend, Marieda de Klerk (Lara Kinnear), by coincidence when applying to be a nurse for soldiers returning from the front of the Border War. Irma is pursued by Marieda’s brother, Sampie (Francois Jacobs) and the bulk of the story is set in motion.

There are specific things that I vindictively look for in a film that is set in a specific era. Details that exclaim that the fictional world created for the production of the film is false, whether it be in the wardrobe, set dressing or the types of globes used in lamps. My search exponentially lost its momentum as the story gained my attention. My opinion about narrators was that they should be outlawed. I do not want a voice, a person or even dictation to tell me what I do not know. I regarded it as a fool’s method to stay within a budget and time limit of a production until I witnessed the genius through which the narrator is incorporated in this film. It enhanced the flow of the film without thrusting itself into a scene; it contributed empathy when the audience could only express sympathy.

Furthermore, the acting ability of the new generation of Afrikaans actors seems to be approaching that of, what I refer to as, the Golden Age of Afrikaans cinema. Nortmann has proved herself in comedy and drama and is well on her way to having job security, a rarity for any actor in South Africa, while Kinnear reminds me of Emma Stone in her breakthrough role in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past. Not for one moment did I roll my eyes with the hope of erasing the forceful expression of what is meant to be emotion I had to witness. Hanekom seems to still be stuck in her mindless character in Dis Ek, Anna and seems to not be able to play a character other than that. The films soundtrack assisted greatly in creating an atmosphere in to which most Afrikaans speaking people can relate, resulting in the persuasion that what the audience is seeing, is true and authentic, while the score reminded of the emotive capacity of that of a Pixar score.

I can, with no authority and absolute certainty, say that this is the dawn of a new age for South African film after being thoroughly impressed by this film and Noem My Skollie. Yes, there will be films with the sole purpose to entertain in the superficial manner of disguising yourself to prank people, but let’s not lose focus on what Vir die Voëls achieved.

To a certain extent, this film disguised itself too. It was disguised as a light hearted comedy, promising two hours of entertainment in your home language, but it is so much more. It ripped open wounds to reveal the puss in so many broken families. Families in which alcohol is more important that the members which it ruins. Families that keep their heads high until the weight of the yoke forced on the shoulders of those who don’t confide in addiction is too much to bear. Families that keep up appearances as the British influenced Afrikaans culture dictates – it never happened if it isn’t talked about and simply brushed under the carpet where the corpses of childhoods are hidden. It reveals to the ignorant and those who choose to be naive that the influence of parents on children is far greater than anyone can explain. It is far more precious than any part of a child’s life. It is what moulds a child into the person they’ll be. It determines their selfesteem, their fears, their objectives and their emotional ability.

This film can ignite a revelation within you, within your family, within the South African Film Industry and within our nation, but only if you let it.

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Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

A Review

The bar is set high. Hopefuls and die-hards have sold out cinemas long before the day has arrived.  Moviegoers are dressed up as if they have been summoned. Does the film live up to its great predecessors or did someone simply yell Expecto Patronum?

 First things first; Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is neither a prequel, nor a sequel of any kind to any Harry Potter film. It is a spin-off. It is what Finding Dory is to Finding Nemo, or what Minions is to Despicable Me. A spin-off simply uses the successful base of its predecessor to create a new story line, while acknowledging the characters and plot of its inspiration. Great! Now that that is out of the way, let’s get back to what is important.

Fantastic Beasts brings us to1920’s New York where Newt Scamander (Eddie Redmayne – The Theory of Everything) just arrived to study and document magical creatures. He is after all a magizoologist… Things take a turn when a measly muggle accidently opens Newt’s suitcase, creating a prime opportunity for some beasts to endeavour on a sightseeing tour of the Big Apple. While doing their best to recapture them, Newt and his muggle run into a bit of trouble when Tina Goldstein (Katherine Waterston – Steve Jobs), a former Auror, takes them in and attempts to have them brought to justice as Newt is an undocumented wizard running about on the streets of New York and seeing as she stands for what is right, the Magical Congress of the United States of America must be made aware of such atrocities! Long story short, they have a little chat over dinner and see eye to eye resulting in Tina and her sister assisting Newt and his muggle in what they must do.

Anyone who has seen at least one of the Harry Potter films will be excited by the release of the first instalment of a new trilogy from J.K. Rowling’s pen, but it’s grandness is hardly what it is expected to be. As always, Warner Bros. pulled out all the stops throwing every single million dollar bill they have towards the production of the film which is evident in the spectacular CGI, backlots and locations, but I am sad to say that that was about the most impressive parts of the movie. Redmayne seemed to be stuck in The Danish Girl, while supporting cast kept the atmosphere playful. The score managed to evoke limited nostalgia as it piggybacked on John Williams’ iconic Harry Potter theme, but soon changed to melancholic Christmas music that reminded me of The Polar Express’ score, which is then sidestepped by the roaring atmosphere of the Jazzy 20’s. My confusion is soon distracted by scrupulous costume design and meticulous sound editing, which is unfortunately some of the only impressive factors that acted as a life rope for the film as a whole. I’m not saying you should not see the film, I’m merely suggesting that expectations should be lowered.

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Café Society

A Review

Seduced by the trailer which displayed the name of the writer/director and the smooth jazz creating an aesthetic flow of events in 1930’s Hollywood when the sign still read Hollywoodland, I eagerly awaited the film to start. I make sure to see every single one of Woody Allen’s annual art pieces on the silver screen as I often gain a new, queer appreciation for cinema as a whole after viewing his imagination coming to life.

In Café Society, a man called Bobby Dorfman (Jesse Eisenberg – The Social Network) moves from gang-ridden New York City, where his brother is part of the main mob, to Tinseltown. There he employs nepotism as his only method of job hunting and gets paid running made-up errands for his uncle, Phil Stern (Steve Carrel – Foxcatcher). Phil is the guy that everybody who is anybody knows because they were nobody before they became somebody thanks to Phil. Bobby falls head over heels in love with uncle Phil’s assistant (Vonnie – Kristen Stewart), and finds himself in a typical Woody Allen Love Triangle. Events unfold in an unpredictable fashion which leads to Bobby moving back to NYC and starts a successful nightclub with the help of his knee-breaking brother and powerful contacts he made in Hollywood. It soon created a new culture and movement within the social activities of the rich, famous and influential which led to the birth of the café society.

Without spoiling any of the plot, I feel it necessary to mention the presence of Veronica Hayes (Blake Lively – Gossip Girl) in the film. Although Lively doesn’t show a vast range in acting ability nor character played, and although she might have been type-casted – graciously elegant while unmistakably confident – I welcome her to any film.

When the results of big sporting events were discussed at my high school, our principal used to say that we only compare ourselves with ourselves and that is exactly what I’ll do with Mr. Woody Allen’s work. Café Society isn’t anything new. It’s nothing we haven’t seen from Allen before. Yes, the sets were magnificent and the costume design revived an era which has long been forgotten, but the tedious quirkiness and uncertainty of the main character, as with most of Allen’s films’ main characters, got redundant and irritating. The cinematography felt forced with shots that might have only been taken at a low angle in order not to get any evidence of a generation younger than three decades in the frame. Some actors’ direction seemed to be taken too literal, resulting in the delivery of their line being comparable to that of a grade seven school play. At least the narration, done by Woody himself, had some comedic quality to it.

Overall, I’m sad to say that it is nothing that we haven’t seen before and especially from the great Woody Allen.

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Keeping Up with the Joneses

A Review

Upon reading the title, I formed a Stepford Wives type of plot in my imagination. I expected a film about neighbours trying to out-do the other with their white picket fences and their luxury cars. I expected it to be a type of British drama with a touch of black comedy but what I got was something vastly different.

Keeping Up with the Joneses kicks off in suburban bliss where perfect American family of four sending their kids to summer camp so mom and dad can relax and spend some quality time together. All they wanted were peaceful naps on Sunday afternoons and social neighbourhood gatherings in the backyard, but alas! Curiosity seemed to have killed the cat called Peaceful. When Jeff and Karen Gaffney (Zach Galifianakis – The Hangover & Isla Fisher – Confessions of a Shopaholic) meet their new neighbours, The Joneses, Karen immediately suspects them of a false façade. Jeff on the other hand quickly develops a blatant man crush on Tim Jones (John Hamm – Mad Men) and hangs on his every word. Karen decides it to be wise to amateurishly stalk Tim’s majestic wife, Natalie (Gal Gadot – Fast & Furious), and figures out that the Joneses are spies. Determined to stop them, the Gaffneys decide to take the little intel they have to the highest authority accessible – the security guy at Jeff’s work. What follows is a comical combination of action and ignorance, waltzing on the music of singing bullets.

I often describe a comedy as “a fun night out” or some other generic phrase.  Fortunately, those phrases are beneath Keeping Up with the Joneses. Sure the CGI wasn’t perfect at times, but I found myself laughing hard enough at the witty jabs the characters gave each other, that I wouldn’t have noticed it, had I not scrutinized the exploding flames. The seductively beautiful Gal Gadot brings a James Bond­-like quality to the film without attempting to, while Zach’s physical comedy ensures that the whole family will enjoy every second of the film.

I’m happy to say that I didn’t get what I expected. Because that would have been an absolute bore. Instead, I got a gripping action comedy which, for once, impressed me with spy suave that only Hamm and Gadot can pull off as well as a comedy that actually made me laugh. Keeping Up with the Joneses is exactly what you need after a long week.

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Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief)

A Review

I’ve only gotten the feeling that Noem My Skollie (Call Me Thief) gave me once before. It reminded me of the emotions I experienced while I was watching Shok, the Oscar nominated short film from director Jamie Donoughue, which is based on true events during the Kosovo war. Shok shook me. It opened my eyes to a world unknown to me. But did Call Me Thief’s reminiscence result in induced sympathy due to an emotive Shok, or did the production succeed in provoking empathy in its own right?

Call Me Thief is an Afrikaans film set with the troubled 1960’s Cape Flats as backdrop. We are introduced to a young man called AB (Austin Rose) by his friends, but Abraham by his mother, and his three best friends; Gimba (Ethan Patton), Gif (Joshua Vraagom) and Shorty (Valentino de Klerk). After a series of horrific events, AB decides that the four of them should no longer aim to one day be accepted into an existing gang, but should rather form their own – The Young Ones. The Young Ones are now on an abysmal path, willing to do anything in order to earn the respect of their elders and intimidate their opposition.

Skip a few years ahead and The Young Ones has achieved their goal. Roaming the streets of the crime-ridden and impoverished Flats, AB and his gang feel invincible until the inevitable happens when the then-mighty South African Police Service makes Lady Justice smile – a smile more beautiful than that of Mona Lisa. All this and the film hasn’t even been rolling for half of its justified 2h30.

I must admit that I have never seen a production of this quality from the South African film industry, keeping the bar set by It’s Me, Anna in mind. I like to think that nothing gets by me when I experience a film. I’m attentive to everything from continuity to set dressing and wardrobe design and not a single thing was out of place. Every scrupulous detail such as President H.F. Verwoerd’s address to the nation playing over the stereo in the background to the linguistic quality of Afrikaans in the 1960’s contributed to the empathy evoked in each and every audience member. It resulted in tears rolling down the cheeks of viewers sitting next to me and gasps of shock coming from those behind me. It manifested an understanding of the Cape Flats’ Gangs in the minds of viewers who have not yet been confronted with the treacherous reality in which innocence is thrusted at ages where melting ice-cream dripping from a cone is supposed to be the worst part of the day.  My only wish is that the film’s score had contributed more to the film in order to accentuate the emotions provoked.

The film has the feeling of an Oscar Nominated Film. It has the capacity and the attentiveness that authenticates not only a nomination but an Academy Award. And if by chance the director, Daryne Joshua, might be reading this; thank you. Thank you for breathing artistic life into the Afrikaans Film Industry and thank you for highlighting the immense talent that South Africa has to offer the world. You do not want to miss this film.

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Deepwater Horizon

Deepwater Horizon

A Review

My hopes were high. So was the tide, and I did – as Atomic Kitten advised in 2001 – I hold on. But was I saved from a dreadfully mediocre disaster drama?

Deepwater Horizon is based on the true-life horror better known as The BP Oil Spill. Simply put, the oil rig, named Deepwater Horizon, was pushed beyond its limits of capability against the advice of knowledgeable and experienced employees working on the rig, which resulted in absolute disaster. Humanity’s focus on financial gain and the so-called Rat Race as a whole lie at the very core of the film, resulting in my questioning the path that we have led ourselves to follow once again, but that is a rant for another day.

The film attempts to put a personal touch on the storyline by accentuating the personal lives of those who were on the Deepwater Horizon at the time of the cataclysm, yet while watching I realised that I had to convince myself to invest emotionally in the film. Although the film has a long list of A-list actors’ talents, such as Mark Wahlberg’s, Kate Hudson’s, John Malkovich’s and Dylan O’Brien’s, at their disposal, the director (Peter Berg) didn’t manage to tap into the vault of emotion the film could have desperately used, as he did with Lone Survivor .

Predictable sentiments against the backdrop of persuasive CGI, weren’t enough to have me inch forward in my seat but did manage to shift my focus to immaculate wound makeup sans the necessary contribution from the actor to convince the audience that the wound is real. More sentimentality is thrusted on screen during the credit scroll and I wonder why the film makers decided to devote only half a scene to the impact of the disaster on ocean life (if you couldn’t tell by now – I’m a Green Peace supporter).

Sadly, I don’t have much more to say about the film. Except that I was holding on, still during high-tide, and when a live vest was finally thrown from a rescue boat, it was thrown to the audience member in the seat next to me.

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A Review

“This is the captain. Brace for impact.”

My heart dropped when I heard those words. It felt as if my soul has been ripped from its vessel and is now at its own liberty. But my soul is flightless and diving for the mighty Hudson.

Sully explores the aftermath of The Miracle on The Hudson that happened on 15 January 2009, when US Airways flight 1549 had to make an emergency water landing on the Hudson River in New York City after losing both engines due to a bird strike straight after takeoff. The event was vastly covered by the media, but what we didn’t know about is the internal scrutiny Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger and First Officer Jeffrey Skiles went through. Why did they not turn back to the runway? Why didn’t they make an emergency landing at a nearby airport in New Jersey? And the grossly implied question; why did they act in such a way that resulted in US Airways losing an Airbus A320 (approximately $97 million), because as we all know, in corporate America, money trumps life.

When the director’s chair has the word “Eastwood” on it, printed in crisp white letters, expectations are created that the film will be perfectly crafted with complementary cinematography, lighting, editing, and acting. This is what I call The Clint Effect. The Clint Effect is evident in films like American Sniper, Changeling, and J. Edgar. It evokes a feeling of nostalgia while creating a cold atmosphere in the cinema. It inspires you to do great things without turning into a TED Talk. It portrays your reality through the reality of others.

With the leading role left in the masterful hands of Tom Hanks, Sully is brought to audiences in another dimension that is the humble pilot that did his best to save all lives entrusted to him on that day. A man who is worried about his reputation and family and not just the hero in the eyes of those who have seen the NedGroup add.

Hanks’ acting is brilliantly supported by Aaron Eckart, portraying the role of co-pilot Jeffrey Skiles that results in a dynamic only present in most power couples (unlike Brangelina –  ag shame).

Overall, the film results in thoughts of thankfulness, wonder and whether the production will get a well-deserved Best Picture Oscar nomination along with Hanks for Best Actor, or whether it will just be Hanks. I’d watch this film again.

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